Access Health CT Intensifies Enrollment Efforts In Final Week

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Connecticut’s public health exchange is intensifying its efforts to sign up people insurance before the March 31 deadline, including a partnership with nine clinics that ask patients if they are covered.

Access Health CT, the exchange, is partnering with nine Federally Qualified Health Centers in Bridgeport, East Hartford, Hartford, New Haven, Norwalk, Norwich, Waterbury and Willimantic to provide additional in-person assistance for the final week of enrollment.

“The momentum of enrollment is increasing pretty dramatically,” said Kevin Counihan, CEO of Access Health CT.

On Monday night, for example, Access Health CT had 1,168 enrollees in private health plans offered by insurers.

“That is basically double what we typically do,” Counihan said. “We’re seeing a day-to-day increase in web activity of about 20 percent.”

In the last week of enrollment, Access Health CT is calling its final push “March to Enrollment,” with extended call-center hours and additional advertising. Call centers will be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday and 8 a.m. to midnight on Monday, March 31. The phone number if 855-805-4325, and the website is accesshealthct.com.

As of March 23, Access Health CT had enrolled 170,021 people for health insurance which comprises 105,571 people into Medicaid and 64,450 into private health plans sold by insurers. Access Health CT did not provide statistics on how many of the private health plan buyers were eligible for a federal subsidy, or tax credit.

The goal is to have 185,000 enrollees by the end of March 31, of which 70,000 will be in a private health plan, Counihan said.

The Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, requires a person to have signed up for health insurance by March 31. Anyone who doesn’t have coverage will have to pay a fine at the time 2014 taxes are due, a year from now.

If a person or family doesn’t buy health insurance for this year, the fine is $95 per person in the family up to $285, or 1 percent of household income, whichever is greater. The 1 percent of income metric is capped at a dollar value equal to the national average price of a bronze-level health plan, which is certainly thousands of dollars.

The federal mandate requiring medical coverage has various exemptions. For a complete list and how to apply for them, visit www.healthcare.gov/exemptions/

About Matthew Sturdevant

Full-time staff journalist at The Hartford Courant and magazine freelancer with a master's degree in writing from Dartmouth. My work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, Taiwan News, The Baltimore Sun and many other news sources. My blog has been referenced by Politico.com, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Georgetown Law Library and a number of organizations in healthcare and business. Sturdevant’s blog is "a well-written wealth of ideas," said The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, (businessjournalism.org, May 18, 2011). I have experience writing for newspapers, magazines, Web sites and blogs as well as shooting and editing video. I made regular appearances on news-talk radio and on the NBC affiliate station in Corpus Christi, Texas. I made occasional appearances on the Fox affiliate in Connecticut promoting Hartford Courant articles.

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